ISTANBUL -- The European Union (EU) will submit a bid Monday to the United Nations for approval of military intervention in Libya that would target the country’s growing human trafficking network. If approved, the plan would allow EU ships to enter Libyan waters to identify and stop boats transporting migrants to countries such as Italy.
Federica Mogherini, the EU’s chief foreign and security policy coordinator, will brief the U.N. Security Council in New York Monday on the Chapter 7 resolution, drafted by Britain, the Guardian reported. UN Chapter 7 resolutions, if passed by the Security Council, allow for intervention by one country into another either with military action or without.
The proposal comes at a time when the migrant crisis stemming from North Africa, especially from Libya, is becoming more deadly by the month. In April, 900 migrants died off the Libyan coast after a ship smuggling migrants to Italy sunk. The journey across the treacherous waters to Europe have grown so dangerous that some are finding alternative options. On Sunday, Spanish police said an 8-year-old boy from Ivory Coast was smuggled from Morocco to Spain in a suitcase.
This week the executive body of the EU will propose new migrant quotas that would require member nations to share the responsibility of housing migrants crossing the waters to Europe. Humanitarian organizations have called on European governments to allocate more funds to rescue migrants off their coasts.
“A tragedy of epic proportions is unfolding in the Mediterranean,” the United Nations and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said, in a joint statement, following the deadly shipwreck last month. "We ... strongly urge European leaders to put human life, rights, and dignity first today when agreeing upon a common response to the humanitarian crisis in the Mediterranean."
The IOM said at the end of last month that its latest count of migrants arriving by sea in April stood at 14,908 and said 2015's smuggling numbers will be at least as large as last year's, the deadliest on record for migrants lost at sea in the Mediterranean, according to a release distributed to reporters.
Several humanitarian organizations have increased their staff numbers in Sicily.
"I have spoken with teens and families. The situation in Libya has gotten worse, so even some who had lived there for one to two years are willing to risk it to try to get here," Francine Uenuma, the director of media relations at Save the Children, who is currently working out of Sicily, told International Business Times.
Humanitarians working in Sicily say the number of unaccompanied minors -- or people under the age of 18 years of age or under a country's legal age of majority and are not being cared for by a guardian or other adult -- are mostly from Eritrea, followed by Somalia.
"Minors can be kidnapped, and then their families are extorted for money," Uenuma said. "Some are held and beaten, and have seen their friends be victims of violence or killed."
By Save the Children estimates, about 32,000 migrants arrived on the shores of Italy this year, including about 2,730 minors of whom 1,863 were unaccompanied. That number is expected to increase drastically, Uenuma said, especially in the coming summer months.